Navigating the Data Storage Challenges of On-Site Production

Quobyte
6 min readJan 24, 2024

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Nowadays, video production often involves diverse steps in different places, such as shooting a video in a studio in California and capturing videos on a beach in the Caribbean. When production teams often try to realize some of the producer’s and writer’s ideas, they must travel to remote locations to get the perfect scene. And even though newer and more affordable high-resolution cameras help teams with this challenging task, issues still arise when it comes to storing, accessing, and handling the ‌massive amounts of data generated on-site.

Identifying the Challenges

Production teams aim to provide a substantial amount of content to editors so that they can work with as many details as possible. However, this objective has its challenges. The on-site cameras save data onto memory cards, requiring physical retrieval and data transfer to a computer. The on-site digital imaging technician typically has a Mac with a RAID or a SOHO-style NAS with four to eight drives and a few media shuttles. They will make copies of the footage and then send it to the post house. This process can be very time-consuming and inefficient, as it requires the technician to copy and move the footage multiple times, and keeping track of the different copies of the footage can be challenging.

Another significant challenge that production teams face is storing and managing large amounts of data. Shooting in high resolution, such as 4K or 8K, generates large files, and on-site storage systems typically have limited performance, making it difficult to manage large amounts of data efficiently.

Post-shoot, as the day draws to a close, there’s the critical task of reviewing dailies to ensure adherence to the original plan. This demands seamless data sharing. Directors, cinematographers, and editors all require access to these dailies. In these cases, the amount of data is too much, even for fast DSL or cable connections; therefore, the most efficient method often involves physically transporting the storage media.

Furthermore, ensuring data security in such an environment can be very challenging as shooting on-site amplifies the risk of misplacing or losing a drive. Moreover, some storage systems deployed on-site may lack robust data security measures like encryption, heightening the potential for content compromise or leaks in case of a lost drive.

Adding another layer of complexity, certain on-site storage systems can be challenging to set up, operate, and maintain. This often requires the presence of a storage specialist on-site. In the midst of the demanding filming process, with its long hours and tight deadlines, your team doesn’t need a storage system that introduces further complexity, issues, and time constraints.

Overcoming Content Challenges

Securely and reliably storing the content shot daily becomes crucial during on-site production. Losing or being unable to access the data could result in significant financial losses. However, most on-site data challenges faced by production teams can be resolved with an appropriate storage solution.

The storage solution selected by production teams should possess the following features:

  • Mobile storage systems in remote filming locations:
    When production teams need to film in remote locations, they require a mobile storage system that can accompany them wherever they go. Therefore, the system must be easy to transport and set up. Additionally, it must be reliable since it will store valuable content and needs always to be accessible.
  • High-performance storage on-site:
    Production teams require high-performance storage to work with high-resolution content, such as 4K and 8K. Therefore, the storage system must be capable of handling these files and providing sufficient capacity to save large files when required.
  • Seamless data sharing:
    Data must be easily shared to facilitate the review process among crew members. This is especially important when multiple crew members must review the dailies. Additionally, since production teams have limited on-site storage capacity when working in remote locations, they require the ability to send data to their centralized storage to offload their on-site storage.
  • Data security:
    To safeguard production teams from content loss or leaks, the storage system must provide data encryption to ensure that only authorized personnel can access the content. Additionally, they require secure data transfer to central storage when offloading their on-site storage.
  • User-friendly storage:
    For on-site production, the storage solution must utilize standard servers and be straightforward to manage. This eliminates the need for a storage specialist to be present on-site, making it more convenient for production teams.

Benefits of Quobyte for On-Site Film Production

Quobyte is a distributed parallel file system that you can deploy anywhere, on-prem, in the cloud, or on-site. It was designed to provide high-performance and 360-degree security to clusters in any location. With its advanced features, such as the Quobyte data mover, clusters can be in sync at all times, making it an ideal solution for production teams working in remote locations. Some of the benefits Quobyte offers to production teams working on-site are:

  • Take your storage where you need it:
    Quobyte was designed to run on any location, even on portable servers on-site — for example, it can be installed on a Supermicro BigTwin SuperServer SYS-221BT-HNTR, which features four nodes with NVMe.
  • With a small footprint, this solution offers full fault tolerance and speeds of up to 40GB/s, making it a powerful on-site storage option that is mobile, portable, and scalable. Whenever you add more servers, your performance scales linearly. For example, if you have two servers, you’ll get 80GB/s. In addition, you can add 5 30TB SSDs in each node, meaning that you can have up to 600TB of flash storage per 2U server.
  • These servers can be conveniently placed on a mobile rack, allowing production teams to take them anywhere they are needed.
  • Achieving peak performance:
    Quobyte is capable of delivering full performance on clusters both in your data center and on-site. With the 2U server mentioned above, you can obtain high performance to handle all your content on-site efficiently.
  • Automatic multi-cluster data synchronization:
    Quobyte’s Data Mover enables easy and high-performance data synchronization between clusters, allowing production teams to transfer content seamlessly between their on-site cluster and their data center or studio servers. This highly parallelized data transfer is done securely without the need for external tools. Quobyte offers TLS encryption for communication, so the teams can rest assured that their data is securely transferred.
  • Transferring the data on-site to a main data center helps offload the on-site cluster, preventing performance issues. Additionally, editors can access the data easily, no matter where they are located.
  • Data Security:
    Quobyte offers a range of security features to ensure that your valuable assets are always safe. With end-to-end encryption, data is protected on disk and over the network. Access control lists (ACLs) give you complete control over who can access your data. Additionally, end-to-end checksums prevent possible data corruption.
  • Simplicity at its best:
    Quobyte offers a highly automated and user-friendly experience, making it easy to use for production teams. It runs on standard hardware and requires no complex setup configurations. Moreover, users can access the storage as a file system from any operating system, including Linux, Windows, or Mac, as well as via S3; this allows them to use their preferred OS, enhancing their workflow and productivity.

Discover how Quobyte can accelerate all stages of media and entertainment, including post-production and distribution, by reading our blog “Simplifying Collaborative Projects for Creative Professionals” or get started with our Free Edition and our first-steps tutorials with walkthrough videos that will help you set up your first cluster in just a few minutes.

Originally posted on Quobyte’s blog on January 09, 2024.

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Quobyte

Quobyte empowers customers by providing real software storage so that they can keep up with the ever-increasing amounts of data in today’s data-driven world.